There is always something new and exciting to experience in Boston, but one of the most incredible adventures of all has been located on Central Wharf for nearly 50 years. The New England Aquarium opened its doors in 1969 and has been constantly growing, expanding and enriching the lives of aquatic creatures ever since.
The aquarium remains a popular tourist spot with 1.3 million visitors per year, but when was the last time you visited? If your last trip to see the fish, seals and penguins was on a school field trip, it’s time for a fresh look!
While general admission will give you access to all the exhibits, there are several programs that allow you to get up close and personal with some of the most popular residents. The New England Aquarium’s immersive Animal Encounter programs take your visit to a whole new level!
Behind the Scenes Tour
Get a peek at the life behind the glass! Visitors 7 and up are invited to go behind-the-scenes and learn exactly what it takes to run the New England Aquarium. While the tours are child-friendly, they are best suited for teens and adults. You will learn how to inspect the tanks, introduce new animals, and make sure they are healthy and happy. Discover what each species eats and check out the on-site veterinary center to see how sick animals are nursed back to health.
Myrtle the green sea turtle is the New England Aquarium’s most famous resident. On this encounter a member of the dive team will provide an in-depth tour of the Giant Ocean Tank which serves as the stunning four-story centerpiece of the aquarium AND Myrtle’s home! The tour includes a behind the scenes peek at the science, technology and husbandry as well as the food preparation necessary to manage this 200,000-gallon exhibit. To top it all off, you’ll get the opportunity to step out onto the platform for a surface feeding – if Myrtle’s in the mood for visitors, you may even get to feed her a head of lettuce!
According to the aquarium’s website, all marine mammal Animal Encounter Programs are currently fully booked, but they hope to have more dates available soon. Clearly the adorable Northern fur seals and California sea lions are quite popular! These playful, intelligent cuties reside at the NewBalanceFoundation Marine Mammal Center – be the first to book an encounter when tours become available!
The New England Aquarium has partnered with Boston Harbor Cruises. Visitors will be taken from Central Wharf to Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary, one of the world’s most active marine sanctuaries. Home to several kinds of large whales, you may encounter humpback whales, finback whales, minke whales, pilot whales and/or critically endangered right whales. You may also see white-sided dolphins! Best of all, if there are no whale sightings on your trip, you will receive a free ticket for a future whale watch!